A huge sigh of relief

free magazines don't work

As we take a huge sigh of relief and press GO on the latest issue of one of the publications I contribute to, I reflect on what great content actually is.

When I started my career 15+ years ago (in what was then customer communications agency Redwood Publishing) branded content only existed for a crazy yet innovative few.

Volvo Magazine, was a Global CRM publication produced to engage and inspire recent Volvo purchasers. I worked in quite a few roles on the team from Editorial Assistant to Promotions to Advertising, I got to know the publishing process whilst also understanding the client’s business strategy, motivations and objectives. The Scandinavian team at Volvo’s Head Office understood, valued and believed in the power their magazine and the content within it delivered in order to maintain retention and loyalty amongst their global customer base.

What resonates so much with me today is remembering sitting in Media Buying Agencies presenting the magazine to the planner/buyer types who looked down their noses and 99 times out of 100 said,

 

“free magazines don’t work, there’s no value in this type of publication”

 

WRONG. SO SO SO Wrong.

 

Volvo Magazine worked, it worked on a global scale. It helped change perceptions and supported the evolution of the brand from a boxy, safe and unsexy automobile to the exceptionally attractive Scandinavian cool premium brand it is today.

 

Good, decent quality content that is well thought out, relevant and presented properly is invaluable. Since working as a consultant with businesses of all sizes it’ makes my stomach turn to hear business owners saying, “it doesn’t matter what it looks like, we just need to get something out there” or “we’ll just whack something together last minute”.

 

This is REALLY saddening. It’s so important if you believe you have a decent offering, service or product, to ensure the quality of communication from your brand is very decent too. Content on the internet, emailed into someone’s mailbox or posted to someone lasts, it doesn’t have a short shelf life, it will always exist, in some cases even when it’s deleted it can still be found. If content is worth doing it’s worth doing properly and making sure it works, reflects the business, aspirations and the brand properly.

 

If I’ve learnt anything from my time in content it’s that it won’t always be 100% perfect but you should ALWAYS aim for it to be, by working with the best and not scrimping on costs!

 

For help with branded content and communications please contact info@magnificentstuff.net

Taking the Jargon out of Marketing

For a long time now I have been attending networking events and seminars and meeting numerous small, medium and large business owners in formal and informal settings. When asked, as one always is, ‘What does your company do, exactly?’ I had a stock phrase: “I represent a company called ‘Magnificent Stuff’ and we’re content marketeers.”

Good, eh? Sounds professional and has the added bonus of actually being the truth, which helps.

Trouble is that no-one had the faintest idea what I was talking about. To anyone outside of our industry it’s meaningless jargon. Eyes glaze over.

So now I have a new line “I represent a company called ‘Magnificent Stuff’ and we get you more exposure, more contacts, more leads, more sales and – bottom line – more money’. Full stop. Period.

The business owners I meet have skills that people want, they have training, they have ideas and they have great products that they’ve developed and believe in. That said, and let’s be frank – you could have the best product in England, a World-changing product, but if no-one knows it’s there why bother at all?

These business owners are good at their jobs, they’ve all has success to a lesser or greater extent and they should be working hard in their business to make it progress. We’re good at what we do too and that is using marketing to tell the whole damn World if necessary that these businesses and products exist.

No jargon.

Visit us here – Magnificent Stuff

8 questions to help you define your content marketing strategy

8 questions to define content strategy

So you understand the need for content. You know WHY big companies use content to market their business and keep their customers engaged. How do you go about deciding on  a  content marketing strategy to suit your company’s needs?

It is quite possible to become confused by the myriad of information available on this subject. To help here are some simple questions to help you decide.

1) What do I want to be known for? 2) What do my customers want? 3) What kind of content will they consume? 4) How can I create content that is interesting, consistent, original and likely to a) attract new customers and b) retain old ones? 5) Where should I publish my content? 6) How often should I publish? 7) What business results do I want from my content? 8) How do I know whether my content is working? Let us assume, for example, that you run a gardening firm that has progressed well and you’re looking to improve your visibility on-line through content marketing. If we address these 8 questions sample answers might be:-

1) What do I want to be known for? – Quality plants.  Stylish landscaping. Promptness of service. Originality. Customer service. 2) What do my customers want? – All of the above plus assurance of professionalism,. Value for money. Peace of mind. 3) What kind of content will they consume? – Videos. Articles. Photography. 4) How can I create content that is interesting, consistent, original and likely to a) attract new customers and b) retain old ones? – By using personal knowledge. By researching trends and fashions. 5) Where should I publish my content? – A website? Blog? Social media? 6) How often should I publish? – Weekly? Bi-weekly? Daily. At which point do I risk over-saturation? 7) What business results do I want from my content? – More customers and MORE sales 8) How do I know whether my content is working? – By periodically checking traffic stats and sales since commencing content marketing.

It is not a panacea but if you apply these simple 8 questions you should be able to see a clear path towards a successful content marketing strategy.

What is content marketing?

traditional advertising and marketing is- rock star

Back in 1999 I got a job whilst in the last few months of college. I didn’t think it would be a permanent thing, just something to tide me over and to start making a dent in the vast student loans I’d accumulated.
Redwood Publishing logo
Back then REDWOOD PUBLISHING, founded by Publishing and Marketing genius Mike Potter, was a ‘contract publishing house’, specialising in creating customer magazines for the array of blue chip clients on the books. I started out working on the VOLVO account, our editor was an extremely accomplished ‘petrol-head’ journo who had previously launched TOP GEAR and his energy, enthusiasm and dedication rubbed off on us all.   We, as a team, grew incredibly passionate about the brand – We loved VOLVO.
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Back then contract publishing was the craft of writing engaging features relating to a niche or sector whilst cleverly promoting a brand. By using skilled journalists as sector experts, the customer communications delivered by the brand was actually credible. Suddenly there was more substance to a marketing campaign, customers didn’t feel they were being directly sold to by ad agencies through a whimsical 30 second ad. 
The content was compelling, believable and original and readers were encouraged to engage with features which were entertaining and informative.
Now, nearly 15 years later,  Mike Potter has sold up and moved  to Barbados, Redwood is no longer a sole player and  contract publishing has evolved from a *£200m  industry in 1999 to what is described today as **’owned media’,  and  worth in excess of £4 billion! 
The traditional contract publishing agencies are being forced to branch out and specialise in branded content across all mediums. No longer are they competing against other publishers – key players come in all forms from digital agencies to social media strategists to PR’s, ad agencies and marketeers. It seems these days everyone can write branded content, the art and skill the early adopters invested in back in the day has been heavily diluted and although only very few do it well the sector continues to thrive with ***70% of UK marketeers using content marketing.
****Content Marketing is described in WIKIPEDIA as a marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc
Unlike traditional advertising, content marketing is focused not on selling, but on simply communicating with customers and prospects. The idea is to inspire business and loyalty from buyers by delivering “consistent, ongoing valuable information.” On the web, content marketing is “simply using content — news, feature, or otherwise — to commercial advantage.
According to y2m, content marketing is utilized by ad agencies to improve brand awareness and later customer acquisition.
Today, despite budget cuts, recessions and global issues the industry continues to thrive with new clients joining daily. Tried, tested and proven the power of branded content is unrivalled in terms of growing loyalty, reducing churn and acquiring new customers.
But only if it is done well and by the experts!
 
Source: *APA Member Survey/Mintel Research Consultancy 2008 & **Seven/YouGov ISBA 2013 ***State of the nation CMA/TNS 2013 ****Wikipedia